2015 was a golden year for rookies. Carlos Correa, Kris Bryant, Noah Syndergaard, Francisco Lindor, Addison Russell, Lance McCullers, Roberto Osuna, and many other youngsters made a huge impact for their respective teams during their first run through the big leagues. This season’s rookie crop hasn’t been quite as impressive as that historically productive group, but it’s been a pretty strong one as well. Corey Seager (technically in his rookie season), Trevor Story, Trea Turner, David Dahl, Jon Gray, and Michael Fulmer are some of the players who have been outstanding in their first full MLB seasons. Perhaps the brightest prospect of them all, however, especially on the pitching side, is 20-year-old Dodgers phenom Julio Urias. He’s considered by many to be the best pitching prospect in baseball over the past several years, and it’s not difficult to see why. With plus velocity (his fourseam fastball can reach 96 mph at times) and a varied arsenal (fastball/slider/curve/change) that can generate swings and misses with regularity, it doesn’t seem to be a matter of if Urias will be successful, but when. Considering he was still a teenager for the bulk of his rookie season, it’s reasonable to question whether or not Urias is ready to contribute down the stretch for fantasy owners this season. What can be expected from him over the next month or so?

Let’s take a look at his profile to determine how the rookie has been performing during his first run in MLB. Here are a few thoughts and observations:

His command is better than the numbers indicate. Urias has a mediocre 3.57 BB/9 on the season, but that number might be somewhat misleading. Out of his 14 appearances for the Dodgers this year, he’s walked more than two batters in an outing just three times: his first MLB start at Citi Field against the Mets (4 walks), a late June start in Milwaukee (6 walks), and a mid-August appearance out of the bullpen against Pittsburgh (3 walks). He’s walked two or less in his 11 other appearances, including one or less in 8 appearances. This improved control might help to explain why…

He’s among the league leaders at inducing soft contact. Among the 162 pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched as a starter this season, Urias’ 22.2% Soft% is the 14th highest mark in MLB. His 13.0% infield fly ball percentage (25th best in MLB) is certainly helping his cause in that department. It’s pretty clear that opposing hitters have struggled to square Urias up on a consistent basis, which is also evident in the fact that…

He’s among the league leaders in preventing home runs. Out of that same group of 162 qualified starting pitchers that I mentioned above, Urias has the 9th lowest HR/9 (0.63) this season. However, there’s no better way to prevent home runs (or any runs at all for that matter) than by striking hitters out, which is why it’s also been beneficial for him to…

Be among the league leaders in strikeout rate. Urias is one of just fourteen starting pitchers (min 50 IP) to produce a K/9 greater than 10 as a starter this season (10.05 K/9). His 10.4% SwStr% when starting a game puts him in elite company as well.

Bottom line: Urias’ rookie season hasn’t been without the occasional bump in the road, but the young lefty seems to be doing everything right as he gains more experience at the MLB level. His control is improving, he’s striking hitters out, keeping the ball in the park, and inducing weak contact. His 1.43 WHIP as a starting pitcher leaves something to be desired, but if you give him a pass for the four walks in his MLB debut and assume that his current .369 BABIP should correct itself in the near future, that number should improve in the coming weeks. A potential innings limit is a concern, but the Dodgers have said that he will remain in the rotation. If Urias is still sitting on your wire, consider adding him for the stretch run.

Final Verdict:

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  1. Hot Rod

    Jimmy Bond says:
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    great stuff

    not to be nitpicky but when this gets posted to Facebook is it possible for Razz to choose a different image as the placeholder, like the Razz logo? Having facebook use the bull photo spoils the big reveal! :) (nobody likes spoilers!)

    • Hot Rod

      Jimmy Bond says:
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      @Jimmy Bond: for future Bear or Bull articles I mean

    • Hot Rod

      Jimmy Bond says:
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      @Jimmy Bond: this is how it comes up now

      [IMG]http://i65.tinypic.com/rtmji8.png[/IMG]

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Jimmy Bond: Thanks! I have no clue about the facebook stuff. I don’t even have an account, haha. You’d have to take that up with the higher-ups.

  2. The Hack says:
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    When that slider is working it’s a plus pitch. Fangraphs values are tough to use with this kid…as of now. Every time I watch him I find something new to like and my hopen is he gets into the rotation next year.

    My only reason to not use him is if he gets in any trouble (walks) he’ll be yanked quickly and not get to the 5 innings needed to be eligible for the win. I respect they are using kid gloves with him but as a fantasy player the start coukd be wasted the second that pitch count goes up.

    Great work as always. You know I’m your biggest fan and I mean that in a weight way

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @The Hack: I think that all of his pitches have plus potential. I actually think that his slider is his worst pitch right now, which is saying something. Still a good offering most of the time. I don’t fully trust the pitch values this early. His curve is very good, but has graded out negatively because it got knocked around at Coors a bit (which is not uncommon). Like his change too.

      It sounds like they’ll give him some rope over the next few weeks. We’ll see. They’re fighting for a playoff spot, and Stripling and Norris haven’t been good lately. Kazmir, Wood, McCarthy, and Ryu are hurt. Kershaw is still on the comeback trail. It’d be tough to pull him from the rotation now.

      Thanks. I’m sure there’s a 300 pounder out there who’s read an article or two. You might be the second biggest.

      • The Hack says:
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        @Big Magoo: Hey, I’m down to 275!

        Maybe it was his curve I’m thinking of but he had the Cubs seeing stars with the pitch

        • Big Magoo

          Big Magoo says:
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          @The Hack: Could be. Any of his pitches can look great on any given day.

  3. Scott says:
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    Great article Magoo. You’re always right on time.

    I’m streaming Julio in every league I can today, mostly because of the Padres. Those last 4 Wins in a row help too, last one against the Cubs.

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @Scott: Thanks, Scott! He’s definitely a great streaming option against the Padres. I’m liking what I’ve seen from him recently.

  4. ThE sHiT says:
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    I am so glad the front office didn’t package him and guys like De Leon or Joc for Jo-Fer. I have only watched a bit of Urias, but dude is nasty already and the poise he pitches with at this age makes me think he is the Trout of SPs for years to come. Of course kid gloves will be used for the next year or two, but who cares, keep him in the rotation and let him grow up the hard way.

    Great work as always Magoo!

    As you can tell, GO DODGERS!

    • Big Magoo

      Big Magoo says:
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      @ThE sHiT: Nothing wrong with a little homerism! I’m not a Dodgers fan though, and I agree that he’s a special talent. Not quite ready to anoint him the Trout of SPs, but he looks like the real deal. Enjoy watching him for the next decade plus on your team.

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